Located on a sandy beach, the library building designed by Vector Architects for Beidaihe, a small seaside resort near Beijing, enables reading with a difference while providing the community a cultural facility that attracts holiday-makers and locals alike. The building fulfils its role as antagonist of the sea that it looks onto with a setting that can hardly be outdone in terms of finesse.
Client: Beijing Rocfly Investment Group
Architect: Vector Architects
The surroundings and ambient circumstances – the beach, the sea, fresh air and sunlight – played the central role in designing the library, along with people's desire for peace, diversion and not least a good read. In meeting these needs, the individual rooms in the building differ highly in design. The light-flooded reading room, for example, is organised as a series of ascending seating platforms. The concrete roof is supported by huge steel lattice girders hidden on the inside and outside behind hand-crafted glass block masonries that break the light in different ways. Due to the girders there is no need for pillars that would interrupt the wide panorama window in the reading room and obstruct the view of the ocean. When the folding glass doors below the panorama window are open to the beach, you can sense the salty breeze even at the back of the library room. A completely different effect applies in the mediation room, where merely two narrow slits cast areas of light onto the floor and walls. The sheer massivity of the cast-concrete walls conveys a sense of protection and peace in this space. The activity room is also lit by indirect sunlight, and since it occasionally houses loud events, is set off from the more peaceful zones by a terrace. From here a small staircase leads up to the roof for views of the sea from a different perspective.